While driving down Pine Avenue the other day, I came across the most peculiar sight. I thought to myself, “In downtown Albany, there are chickens in the city and proudly crossing the road.”
Immediately, my mind went to that old joke, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” and for some reason the answer didn’t matter this time. After living in Atlanta for nearly 10 years and returning to this rural site, wandering amidst busy, oncoming traffic and modern life, I couldn’t but help to think that Albany had not grown that much since I had left. As I discussed it with my fellow Albanians, so many seemed to dismiss the chickens as “country,” which implied that to have them in the city is backwards.
However, I thought beyond anything their presence showed that the people of the city, at least have a sense of humor, because chickens are primarily domesticated to be eaten, unlike other prevalent birds like pigeons, red birds, blue jays, and even the Georgia wren. So the fact that these chickens live amongst us and reside with modern life speaks volumes about the sentimental value placed upon what they represent for the city. The chickens in a sense are remnants of rural life, of country roads, and the smell of biscuits in my grandmother’s kitchen.
Today, we live in very cynical times of war, environmental hazards, government corruption, inflation, rising gas prices, and every day we encroach upon nature’s territory pushing rural life further and further away, as cities develop and grow. But there is a lot of value in the rural life and quiet afternoons sitting on porches sipping tea and taking in the country.
While modern cities are so full of noise, air pollution, sprawling traffic and stress from rushing everywhere, Southern cities offer a much slower pace, less stress, and a better quality of life. So let the chickens cross the road. It’s nice to see that they can live with us and we can live with them. It’s hard for me to say that we live with the chickens without laughing, but it’s true.
Certainly, it’s a testament to who we are, when we can say that some chickens can experience the Good Life, too. If you get a chance to drive downtown, near Pine or Monroe on a sunny morning one of these days, they will be there waiting to greet you with a crow or enjoying the scenery. Hopefully, you will be reminded of your Southern roots, the relaxed quality of life that comes from residing here, and feel at home with some remnants of rural life; instead of dismissing them as being out of place or in the way.
Albany resident Cedrick Shelton is a Monroe High School and Morehouse College graduate with a degree in sociology.